If you haven’t been able to tell by your Twitter feed (assuming you have one), today’s the big 10th anniversary of the original Guild Wars, which came out way back in 2005. This is a sort of bittersweet recognition by many, since ArenaNet has put Guild Wars into maintenance mode for some time now and the collective focus has shifted to the sequel, leaving the original to quietly fade into its autumn years. Compared to the ongoing development of other older MMOs — like WoW, EVE, UO, and EverQuest — this seems a little wrong, somehow.
My 2005-era Guild Wars tale is probably less thrilling and sentimental than those you’ll find from true fans. I did pick up a copy that April (which was right after my wedding, so there’s another big 10-year anniversary) and was intrigued by the buy-to-play model, which was unheard-of at the time for online RPGs. I remember the art style and the music being absolutely breathtaking — so well done, in fact, that it even holds up today. And the idea of mix-and-matching classes and collecting skills was pretty cool.
But Guild Wars never gripped me the way I saw it do to others, probably because I was firmly in the claws of World of Warcraft at the time and was a little disappointed as why this game felt smaller and the loot insignificant in comparison. The mission system also confused me (at the time) and I couldn’t quite get the hang of grouping up with others to progress. So it wasn’t before long that Guild Wars got shelved, although I’d take half-hearted stabs at it throughout the years.
It was only really when Guild Wars 2 was announced and the whole Hall of Monuments tie-in revealed that I got enough determination to see the game through its campaign, if only to secure a few goodies for the sequel. My guild was immensely helpful in propelling me through some of the tougher missions, and I was able to walk away from the game having gone through all three campaigns’ storylines.
And while today I still feel very much like an outsider to the whole ArenaNet/Guild Wars community, I can appreciate the artistry and business saavy that powers this franchise and the passion that it imbues among fans. So happy 10 years, Guild Wars! Enjoy your well-earned retirement.